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Rhone River Cruise

Grand Circle Travel

 July 21,   7, August 2000

This is my second river cruise.  Each is a little better than the previous one. 

This trip took me to France for a cruise on the Rhone River.  I left home on

July 21 and returned on August 7, 2000.  The trip was divided into three

segments.  First, was a three day stay in Nice with a side trip to Monaco. 

Second segment, was the river cruise with an extension into the Loire Valley

and its Burgundy wineries.  Lastly, was a short visit to Paris. 

I hope to visit Paris again soon.  The weather and

my traveling companions were terrific.


The weather on the Rivera was hot and my

new traveling companions were terrific.

 The trip was divided into three parts, the first, was a three day visit to

Nice on the French Rivera, second, was the Rhone River cruise and

lastly were the excursions to the Loire Valley and then to Paris for two days.

 The trip started with flights from Syracuse to Washington to Frankfort and

finally to Nice.  The weather in Nice was hot and it was a

very busy time in Nice as it was summer vacation time in Europe.


As you can see the beach in late July was very crowded. 

I was there in November the year before and there were no swimmers. 

The beach was covered with small stones, not sand. 

It did not look very comfortable to lay out on.


This picture is from an afternoon trip to two medieval villages in the hills above Nice. 

St. Paul and Gourdon were picture postcard type towns.  The streets were

narrow and full of shops selling everything from art to postcards.

This is one of several Picasso sculptures found in a garden at a Picasso

museum located at Artibes on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  The museum

was somewhat disappointing as there were very few works of them famous

artist on exhibit.  There were many platters that he had decorated on display. 

It was explained that his paintings were in other museums around the world.

 Day two, we toured Nice in the morning and then bussed to Monte Carlo.


Here I am in front of the Monaco Royal Palace.  I have a new Panama hat

to keep the sun from my brow.  (The hat was made in Ecuador.)  The palace

guard is about to change.  Their white summer uniforms

are not as colorful as the blues of winter that I saw in November.


This is part of the multi-tiered park in front of the famous Monte Carlo Casino. 

A really beautiful setting.  They were adding a new giraffe to the sculptures

found in this small park.  The pools and fountains were very pretty.


We departed Nice after our three day stay and were bussed

to the city of Aix-en-Provence.  We toured ancient Roman ruins.

Aix was founded in 123 B.C. by the Romans.  This was a mime who

displayed his talents in the main plaza of Aix.  We had a very

nice walking tour of Aix and saw many interesting

sights and several old churches.



The river cruiser Ravel.


At Arles, we boarded our river cruiser for our trip up the Rhone River. 

The river has been changed by the placement of dams along the way

so we really traveled on one lake after another.  This is the river cruiser

Ravel.  It will be our home for the next week.  The Ravel is only a

couple of years old and was built at a cost of 12 million dollars. 

It only draws 4 and 3/4 feet so it can sail the river quite nicely.  The ship

had a crew of 29 and we were a traveling group of 121. 

Everything on the ship was first class in every way.




 At Arles on the Rhone River, we toured the town see more Roman ruins

and to learn about Van Gogh who loved Arles.  His paintings

of the town were noted by markers found around the town.


This is the site of one of Van Gogh's famous paintings

of the yellow building with arches.


This is the marker noting the spot where Van Gogh painted

this famous picture.  A copy of the

painting was attached to this marker.


Our next stop on the cruise was at Avignon where we toured

the Palace of the Holy See.  The Popes left Rome in the 14th century and

were settled in Avignon.  The Palace was beautiful and our tour

of it pointed out the influence of the Popes beginning with Clement V. 

Many Popes who lived in the Palace added to it over the years.


This is a shot of the Palace from the river.  As we sailed away from

Avignon we went under the famous Bridge of Avignon to sing

the song about the bridge.

 Below is a picture of the Ravel in one of the many locks were

traversed on the Rhone.  Most locks were high and long to accommodate the

river traffic.  In some cases the Ravel would just fit into the lock.  The ship's

steering cabin would often have to slide into the deck in order

to clear the lock's bridges.  It was moved by hydraulic pistons.


We sailed to Vivers, where we had an evening walk to visit an old

cathedral located on a bluff high above the river. 

The scenery was beautiful.  The cold beer in a bar in

town was perfect on this warm evening.

This is a picture of the old cathedral in Vivers.


I am on deck waiting for us to dock at Tournon.  We are going to take an

hour and half train ride into them hills above Tournon. 

It was a great trip with beautiful scenery.


All aboard for our train ride!

Our next stop was Vienne.  This was a very interesting twelfth-century

Romanesque-Gothic cathedral.  The Cybele Gardens were in the Roman

ruins of the town.  Pictured above is the mini-acropolis built in 10 BC

located in down town Vienne.  It was a beautiful structure.  The

theatre Roman was very impressive. 

They hold summer jazz concerts there.

 Next port of call was Lyon.  A neat town to visit.

Lyon is our last stop on the Rhone River.  A very interesting city with

many things to see. Pictured above is the Basilica of Notre Dame.  It sits

on a bluff high above the city.  A magnificent structure.

 We have sailed on the Saone River toward Dijon.  The river locks are

more frequent and the river is shallower than the Rhone.

I am on my extension trip to the Loire Valley.  We have left the river

cruiser and are being bussed about the valley.  In this picture, I am in

one of the many vineyards in the Burgundy region of France.  This vineyard

is in Clos de Vougeot.  The vines where I am standing are lush with grapes. 

I found out they pick the grapes on the lower sides as they are more flavorful. 

We saw huge wooden presses that were used to squeeze the juice

from the grapes in olden times.

 On the way to Blois we had a stop in Vezelay which was an

important pilgrimage site in France.  In 1164, St Bernard preached in

favor of the Second Crusade and in 1190, Phillippe-Auguste

and Richard the Lionhearted met here to set off on the Third Crusade.

In Vezelay, I looked over the Mercedes Smart car. 

A remarkable vehicle as you can see. 

They cannot be exported to the USA.  They were everywhere.

After our week of sailing on the rivers of France we were bussed

to Blois in the Loire Valley.  This would be our home for a couple of days. 

Pictured above is the Chateau found on the main hill in Blois. 

It dates back to the 10th century.  This shot is of the side of the chateau. 

King Louis XII was born in the chateau.  A very impressive structure.

Another view of the Chateau in Blois.  The scenery from

the Chateau was very panoramic.  You could

see the county side for miles.

On our second day in Blois, we toured three Chateaux located

in the Loire Valley.  The first was Chenonceau.  It was in a beautiful setting

with the chateau spanning a river.  There were many well planned gardens

around the chateau.  It was built in 1513 on the site of a medieval fortress and old mill.

Another beautiful Chateau!  The chateau Cheverny was built in

1634 in the almost symmetrical classical style.  The tour inside showed

many artifacts of the various periods when it was home

to same family nearly seven centuries.

This was our last stop of the day and it was a truly

breathtaking structure.  Unfortunately, we did not

get to visit the inside of Chateau de Chambord. 

I wish we had had time to tour the chateau.

The next day we bussed to Chartres on our way to Paris. 

We had a late morning lunch time visit to the 13th century Chartres Cathedral. 

It is a magnificent structure and is larger than Notre Dame in Paris. 

 We were given a guided tour of the cathedral. 

The stained glass windows were beautiful. 

This is a truly imposing structure.

 Our bus ride to Paris was uneventful.  Our driver and program

manager were worried because it was the start of the French vacation season. 

They were sure that the streets and highways would be full

of people heading to the country for vacation.  We did not encounter

traffic problems all the way to Paris.

Here I am in Paris in front of Notre Dame which

is a mob scene.  I saved my visit for another trip.

 In the afternoon, after our tour of Paris I had a tour of the Louver. 

It is a spectacular museum.  I did get to see the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo

and Winged Victory the museum's three "girls" of fame.  My visit as all too short.

 The next day we bussed to Claude Monet's home in the village of Giverny

We had a tour of the house and then visited the famous lily pond with its

bridge that was in one of Monet's famous paintings.  There we only copies

of Monet's painting at his house since them originals were in various

museums around the world.

Here I am on the bridge over the Monet lily pond.  It is one of the

settings for a painting that has been copied in print from and displayed widely.

Our last morning in Paris before heading home. 

With me in this shot of the famous tower is my

friend Doc Moore of Western Nebraska.

 This is my last picture shot in Paris on Tuesday

evening after attending the show at the Moulin Rouge. 

The show was terrific and should be a do not miss if you go to Paris!

This trip was one of my top travel experiences! 

It makes me want to return to France and Paris in the future.